An updated environmental assessment of a possible change to Orkney Islands Council’s ballast water management policy will be made available this week for public consultation.
The results of the consultation will be considered by Councillors later this year before they debate whether to implement a change in policy.
This has been under consideration by the Council for a considerable period of time and four options have been discussed.
One of these - Option Two - would allow ships to exchange their ballast water in the North Sea while on route to Orkney – and then discharge this exchanged ballast water within Scapa Flow.
In future, international shipping regulations are expected to require tankers to have systems on board for the treatment of ballast water prior to discharge. Option Two would mean tankers treating exchanged ballast water before discharge in Scapa Flow, once these regulations come into force.
In 2012, a meeting of the Full Council agreed to take forward Option Two as the preferred approach to the development of a new policy.
This option demands the greatest scrutiny of the potential impacts of a change in policy. The updated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is being made available to the public as part of this process.
“It is important to make clear that Council has not decided that Option Two is the preferred policy to be implemented,” said Gavin Barr, the Council’s Executive Director for Development and Infrastructure.
“Many different points of view have already been raised and put before Councillors for discussion. Before a new ballast water policy is adopted by the Council, a range of matters will be fully considered by Elected Members, including the detailed scientific information contained in the SEA and other studies and the feedback we receive through the consultation.”
The SEA will be made available for public consultation over a six-week period, starting on Thursday March 21.
Paper copies of the document will be available at OIC Customer Services in Kirkwall and the public libraries in Kirkwall and Stromness.
There will also be public drop-in events in Kirkwall Town Hall on April 10 and Stromness on April 11, with the venue to be confirmed later.
A possible change to the ballast water management policy will then be considered by the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on May 28, 2013.